Archive for the yard work Category

A good day’s work…

Posted in gardening, gratitude, Spirituality, sweat lodge, yard work on April 14, 2016 by Standing West

Canvas tarp cleaned and patched,  blankets washed, rose bush planted, yard mulched, fence posts chain-sawed and chucked, post office run complete….It’s been a productive day.

Guess I’ll back up to the tarp and blankets for a minute.  Yesterday I went to Maryland to do some yardwork for Grandmother Martha, the widow of Grandfather Eddie, our Elder who recently walked on.  After I weed-whacked the Medicine Wheel, I fired up the walk-behind and the cable that engages the cutting-blade snapped.

I looked around for something else to work on and saw that the sweat lodge had partially collapsed.  I talked with Grandmother about the lodge and she said she’d rather I laid it to rest privately. Rather than recount the ceremony, I’ll just say that the tarp and blankets came from Eddie’s sweat lodge and will serve as the covering and doors of the healing lodge we’re putting up in the backyard later this year.

Finances have been a bit dodgy since leaving my day job, but Spirit always seems to provide what’s needed.  Unexpected tax refund, tarp and blankets for the lodge; these are just a couple of examples.

My hands are dirty from pulling weeds as I type this.  The need to write came upon me unexpectedly; sort of a “Eureka!” moment, and so I went with it.  There’ve been a lot of those lately.  It’s good to get off my ass and hit the keys again…

Pruning the garden…

Posted in gardening, Healing, Initiation, prayer, Sun Moon Dance, yard work on July 7, 2015 by Standing West

There’s been a lot of new growth around here these last few weeks.

The two timid strawberry plants I stuck in the ground a couple of years ago have exploded into a patch that yielded us 6 gallons of berries by the end of this year’s harvest. A multitude of tomatoes and peppers hangs fat and lazy in the early morning sun, and spaghetti squash – an unexpected discovery rescued from the rotary composter – proudly distend their mottled bellies among the dandelions and the  ghosts of last year’s onions.

The new herb bed out front is bursting with life, secure behind sturdy walls lined with Marigolds unfurling their orange and yellow banners defiantly against the ever-present threat of hungry rabbits.

And although we’ve certainly been blessed with abundance, our space here is limited. The success of our harvest is due in no small part to ruthless and diligent pruning.

I see the recent changes in our lives reflected in the garden. May 21st marked my last full day of 9 – 5. My position was phased out and so I left a job I’d held for nearly ten years. I’d sensed for some time that it was coming; not only from the slowing down of work, but also from the subtle – and not so subtle – nudging of Creator to plant my feet firmly upon the spiritual path, tend to my own self-healing, and simply let the rest take care of itself.

For the last two or three years I’ve been praying almost ceaselessly for the removal of anything that might interfere with this journey. During that time, friends have gone their way, habits and hobbies have waned or disappeared, and interests once deemed vital have completely flickered out.

In the space that has opened up, two new studios have generously offered to accommodate an increasing number of appointments; and my wife and I have finally finished converting our downstairs family room into a home office. During this time, we’ve had ample opportunities to focus on our own healing work; and also to pursue our work with others in ways we’d never imagined.

As we enter the arbor in two days for the Sun Moon Dance, I’m keenly aware that as it’s my 7th time, I’ll be dancing in the West of the South: the place of sacred work in the direction of emotion, opposition, and the dying away of things which no longer serve. Admittedly, I enter the arbor this time with no small trepidation – even writing about it now stirs some tension in my solar plexus, and reminds me that the years that have passed since I first picked up the drum have led me to this place.

And while I feel the symptoms of deep and difficult work approaching, I’m no longer focused on the outcome.

I seek only to walk, and to work, and to serve; to prune away the dead and dying branches, that Spirit’s light might reach and nourish the rest…

7/31/2014

Posted in gardening, Healing, Initiation, Spirituality, yard work on July 31, 2014 by Standing West

Still alive.

Still digging.

Moles and bats keeping me company as I finish the yard work with the setting of the sun. Chopping wood. Picking tomatoes. Watering the raspberry canes. The strawberries are in and the garlic hangs in the crawlspace.

Attention turns to preparation for the long journey within. Shadowy things, for decades labelled “enemy” are finally called to dance their wisdom to the steady beat of the drum, while the body opens itself to the lesson.

Our elders are walking a little slower these days; backing away from the lodge and the sacred dance. The paths they’ve followed open earnestly before us; summoning our feet to their first few furtive steps…

Making my ‘scape…

Posted in gardening, Spirituality, Sun Moon Dance, yard work on June 12, 2013 by Standing West

I realize, on an almost daily basis, how long it’s been since I’ve posted something on my blog. To be quite honest, I’ve really had nothing to say. This is not because there hasn’t been anything going on. Nor is it because there hasn’t been the time.

I’ve been entering uncharted territory with my practice lately. My meditation has grown deeper, and I find myself having some difficulty with assigning labels to the experiences I’ve been having. I’ve chosen, instead, to let them simmer a bit.

Perhaps this silence is also due in part to my preparation for the Sun / Moon Dance in July. I’m entering the South this year, and it seems as if my entire being is quieting down in order to pool its strength for the journey.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time in the garden. The last of the strawberries have been frozen and packed away. The tomatoes, peppers, and onions are beginning to stir. And the garlic is plumping up for next month’s harvest. The scapes are long and curly, and topped with seed pods threatening to burst at any time. I’ll most likely be cutting them off this evening so the bulbs can take full advantage of a last few weeks of sunshine before I bring them in.

As I ponder this process, I’ve also begun to look at my life, and to wonder just how much of it could – and should – be cut away in order not to tax what really matters.

I find many of my interests flagging lately, and I’ve decided that it really doesn’t bother me. What to some might appear as withdrawal, is really more of an opening up of space – a letting in of some much needed air and sunshine – and the changes it’s allowed for are of a very welcome nature. . .

In My Element(s)…

Posted in gardening, Inspirational, prayer, Shamanism, Spirituality, yard work with tags on April 22, 2013 by Standing West

A bit of an update, as it’s been a while. We’ve been quite busy lately with healing, work, and various social obligations, but this past Friday presented us with a few brief hours of respite, and gave me a chance to put my hands into the Earth again after what seemed like an eternity.

I love working in the garden.

What to some people may seem like just a few square yards of questionable soil surrounded by chicken wire and weeds is, for me, both Sanctuary and a connection to Pachamama’s greater Mystery.

I picked up the lettuce, spinach, onions, and tomatoes at the Lowe’s down the street from us, and I threw myself into the rototilling. After turning over the soil – a precarious mix of Jersey sand, hard pan clay, topsoil, and organic compost – I stood silently for a few moments, drew a small pinch of tobacco from my pouch, and offered a prayer of thanks to the Great Spirit and the seven directions before sprinkling the tobacco over the freshly tilled earth.

Soon the tomatoes and the leafy greens were in. The onions had been soaking for a while, and so I set to work placing them into their new home. Is I drew the loose soil around the last of the onions, I thought about watering them a bit before I mulched them. I remarked to myself that the first water that touched them should be rain. At that precise moment, a small raindrop splashed the back of my hand. I laughed, and thanked Creator and the Thunder Beings for their gift. I noticed that a very fine mist had formed, and reached down to find that that the lawn was soaking wet. In my absorption with the Garden, I’d failed to notice the almost imperceptible rain that had been my constant companion.

As I stood up to stretch, the sky, which had until that time been heavily overcast, parted to reveal a brilliant patch of blue, and the sun poked through for the very first time that morning.

I went to the hose to wash my hands, and a gust of wind nearly blew my hat away. As I headed to the garage for a couple of tools, something suddenly dawned on me. The Earth of the garden, the Water of the rain, the Fire of the Sun, and the warm Breath of the wind had all come to supervise my meager project, bringing with them the blessings of the Elementals and the reassurance that life is life, and that in the Creator’s eyes, all life is sacred…

Earthly delights. . .

Posted in gardening, Inspirational, Shamanism, Spirituality, yard work on April 25, 2012 by Standing West

Finished getting the vegetables into the ground last night. Cucumbers, zucchini, straight necked squash, a variety of peppers and some sugar peas. This in addition to the tomatoes, onions, cabbages, peppers, and peas I planted a couple of weekends ago.

I also finished laying down the herb bed in the front yard. We’ve got chives, rosemary, cilantro, lavender, basil, spicy oregano and dill. Soon we’ll be adding white sage for ceremony and catnip for the critters.

I LOVE getting my hands dirty.

The longer it takes me to clean my fingernails, the happier I am.

There’s something very healing about working in the earth.  Although I’ve never fathered children, prepping the garden feels to me like readying the nursery.  And indeed, that’s exactly what it is.  The soil is carefully tended.   The rows are perfectly laid out.  And when they arrive, the wee ones are tucked gently into their earthen bed with whispered prayers and quiet conversation.

Tilling the soil is tilling the soul.  What comes of it depends entirely upon what we sow, and the care we’re willing to provide for the things we’ve planted. . .

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

Posted in gardening, Inspirational, Medicine Wheel, Shamanism, Spirituality, yard work on May 23, 2011 by Standing West

“If you don’t  want to change, don’t do the work.”

– Jim Frank: elder and friend

Nothing special happened this weekend.  Or rather, I should say that this weekend’s activities were pretty much a continuation of last weekend’s – and of the one before that.   Worked with a patient at the studio, weeded the garden; cut the grass; placed a few gargoyles around the mulch bed; packed and unpacked a slew of boxes in preparation for the move at the end of the month.  All in all, a mellow – if rather busy – weekend.

While talking with a friend at work the other day, he remarked that I was no longer “that same Ben J.” he saw sitting at a local  watering hole some five years ago.  And I had to agree with him.  In those days it was bars and nights out with the pool league. Weekends were spent running to parties or hanging out with friends until the wee hours of the morning.

Slowly though, that all began to fall away.  Like a few stray drops of rain coalescing into a trickle and finally a stream, Spirit crept in and planted my feet firmly upon the good Red Road.  Now the parties are quieter and generally end before midnight. My immediate circle now includes a fiancé.  And sweat lodges and gardening have taken the place of nightclubs and raucous carousing.

Surely my former self would look at the man I’ve become and conclude that I’ve lost my edge.  The need for constant activity is gone, and with it the predatory gleam of a young man’s eye.  Old friends have disappeared, and a newer, less self-destructive crowd has shown up to take their place.  We sip our wine now, the same way we savor the first pale light of a sunrise – the first thin shoots of green breaking through the soil of a back yard garden.

Fire in the belly has taken the place of fever in the brain.

And my own path has led me here to stand in the place of the West; the direction of work and the responsibility of adulthood.  Like pebbles dropped onto the surface of still pond, the ripples of actions are not only observed, but contemplated.  Mother Bear has moved incredible power through this body.  Since picking up the drum, I have been both midwife and observer to events which most would deem “miraculous”.

And yet, it all feels simply as it should. . .

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